Why it's important to know how the Supreme Court works

Many of the issues we care about are decided by the Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court is a crucial component of our government's checks and balances. Its nine appointed-for-life justices have the ability to implement sweeping changes across the country with their decisions. 

This is especially important for ASU students to be aware of as they become actively involved in politics. With policies that impact young people and students, it's important to understand the process of our judicial system.

Gay marriageabortion and segregation are just a few of the widely-known issues that the court has ruled on in the past 70 years. 

The decisions the court made on these landmark cases have shaped the course of our nation, and they will continue to do so for as long as these rights remain in place.

Recently, President Donald Trump’s executive order enacting a travel ban was blocked by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 9. 

This caused friction between the executive and judicial branches and prompted the president to tweet out his thoughts about the decision. 

According to CNN, President Trump is planning to implement a revised ban sometime soon and it seems possible that this new ban could move its way up the judicial system all the way to the Supreme Court. 

On account of issues such as the travel ban, it is important to understand how cases make it to the Supreme Court. 

The U.S. Supreme Court is highly selective in the cases it takes. According to the U.S. Courts website, although it may receive over 7,000 cases per year, the Supreme Court usually only accepts around 100 cases. 

In order for a case to be heard by the Supreme Court, it has to involve an issue of federal law. 

After a case goes through several different appeals courts, it may work its way up to the Supreme Court. In order to appeal to the Supreme Court, one must prepare a “Petition for Writ of Certiorari,” which is what the court will read when determining whether or not to hear the case.

This information will then go to the Supreme Court clerks, who review these documents and then give a summary of the case to the justices. The clerk advises the justices on whether or not they should take the case.

The justices then make a final decision and if four of the nine justices decide to take the case, then a date will be set for the Supreme Court to hear it.

As an ASU student, it is important to be knowledgable about this process since the Supreme Court can often be the decision-maker on hotly debated topics that students care about. College students often care most about the social issues affecting our nation, and such issues will likely end up in the Supreme Court.

If you wish to be politically involved about the issues you care about then knowing how the Supreme Court's process works will help you to be more aware of whether these issues are going to be ruled on by its judges. 

“My guess is that most people don't know how cases get up to the Supreme Court,” Adam Chodorow Ph.D., associate dean for strategic planning and professor of law at ASU, said.

The Supreme Court will likely make a decision on many more controversial issues this year, which may decide the fate of Trump’s travel ban.

We as members of the same country need to do better job of being informed on the country's courts process as many of the political and social issues we are passionate about may very well be decided there. 


Reach the columnist at morganbwillis@gmail.com or follow @Morganwillis37 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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